Now along with many of you (I suspect), I’m a bit sceptical about bankers. And by “bankers” I don’t mean your nice’n helpful local bank manager, but those who work for investment banks. The sort who are still rewarded each year with mind-boggling bonuses that would see most of us sitting pretty for the rest of our lives. The sort we’re always being told we have to humour and pay vast sums, or else they’ll decamp to somewhere like Geneva – and where would we be then? Perfectly OK, I suspect. No one’s irreplaceable, are they?
Anyway, given my pre-disposition to dislike (investment) bankers, I was hugely impressed by recent comments made by the new Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney. Before you get too excited – be warned. Carney, as an ex-Goldman Sachs financier, hails from the very heart of the International financial establishment. But one of the first things Carney’s done (apart from keeping interest rates low for the foreseeable – that’s another story) is criticise investment bankers. Hurray! It’s great to have someone from inside the very heart of the establishment critique it – gives his comments a sort of authority – don’t you think? No disrespect to Justin Welby, ArchB of Canterbury and the rest of the well-meaning clerics – but you kind of expect them to have a problem with investment bankers. But when the criticism comes from the head of the UK banking industry – well, that’s going to make people sit up.
So what did Mark Carney actually say? Well, what he said is something we at Rocket Lawyer, as champions of entrepreneurs and all business people, particularly applaud. Because the main thrust of the comments is that investment bankers need to stay in touch with society. And by that, Carney means that they need to stay in touch with real businesses – they need to understand what’s going with ordinary people trying to do business, big or small. He said, “I think finance can absolutely play a socially useful and an economically useful function but…the focus has to be… the real economy, what it does for businesses making investment, what ultimately it means for jobs in the economy.” He went on to say that if financiers become disconnected from society, they become “socially useless.” Wow, this is hard-hitting stuff. “Socially useless”, eh? Brilliant! I like this man.
So, I for one am rooting for Mark Carney and hoping that his controversial monetary policy works out. I’m also hoping that his comments herald a new age of people from within the banking industry speaking out, rather than closing ranks and trying to pull the wool over our eyes by telling us that somehow we need these people. What we need is more investment bankers like Carney, who’re still in touch and understand real business needs.